By Lisa Samra, Crosswalk.com
As Valentine’s Day approaches, stores are drenched in a simple, idealized vision of romantic love. An unintended result of the spotlight on love around Valentine’s Day is we are often tempted to evaluate our lives—and sometimes even our personal value—based on our relationships.
While thinking about relationships might bring joy and gratitude, it can also highlight the deep pain of loss and loneliness.
If your Valentine’s Day will be difficult because of grief or brokenness, I am sorry for the abundant reminders of your pain. Because it can feel impossible to simply ignore the holiday, how can the brokenhearted approach Valentine’s Day?
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Joy Is Being Fully Known and Fully Loved by God
Coming alongside men and women navigating the pain of disappointment and loss has taught me a lot about finding hope and security in God’s love. His love is the only truly secure place to find strength to face difficult situations.
While every heartbreak has its own story of pain, I believe God’s word is an essential part of refocusing our perspective this Valentine’s Day. The Bible reminds us that we are fully known and deeply loved. Regardless of our relationship status, we all need to be reassured with the truth God speaks to our hearts, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3).
Filling our hearts and minds with reminders of this truth can allow us to move on to practical ways to care for ourselves on Valentine’s Day. You might even be able to extend love to others out of an overflow of receiving God’s love for you. Here’s some hopeful encouragement to help you see your way through hurts this Valentine’s Day:
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1. Encouragement After a Broken Relationship
Valentine’s Day doesn’t feel like a day to celebrate for many who still bear the wounds and pain of divorce, or the end of a significant relationship. When a promise of love and companionship lasts for only a season, and then ends, Valentine’s Day can be a reminder that human love disappoints. Human love can fail to keep its promises, it can be unfaithful.
If those words reflect your reality this Valentine’s Day, it can be difficult to open your heart again even to God’s love. Into your pain, God wants to remind you of His unconditional, never-ending love.
When it feels like everyone else is reading messages of love in glittery cards and affectionate phrases found on candy hearts, consider taking some time to read the very real promises of God’s perfect love available to you.
- God’s love for you will never end (Jeremiah 31:3)
- God’s love is overwhelming and abundant (Psalm 86:15)
- God calls you His beloved child (1 John 3:1)
- God will never reject you (Psalm 27:7-10)
- God will never leave you (Hebrews 13:5)
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2. Caring for Your Heart, Soul and Mind When Single
Practically, it can be helpful to take a break from social media. Saturated with photoshopped photos and airbrushed stories of love and affection, these platforms can make it difficult to keep focused on God’s love for you around Valentine’s Day.
It’s okay to take a break for several days, or better yet, take a break from social media for an entire month.
Use the time you would normally be online to read and reflect on God’s love for you.
Choosing to believe God’s love for you also makes it easier to do something kind for yourself because it is grounded in the promise of His unfailing love. Enjoy a favorite meal, pamper yourself with a massage, hike a winding trail, or enjoy whatever activity brings you joy, and do it with God’s blessing.
Remember, John 1:27 promises that Jesus doesn’t give as the world gives; he gives you peace even when your heart would rather be troubled. Psalms 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Allow yourself to find pleasure in the things God has given you.
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3. Grace for the Widow and Widower
For the person whose spouse has passed away, Valentine’s Day can be a landmine of a holiday because it can be a reminder that there was once a deep love that was now feels ‘taken away.’
Into that loss, God speaks a special message of grace. The prophet Isaiah writes to those who have suffered this loss, “For your Maker is your husband – the LORD Almighty is his name” (Isaiah 54:4). While this verse is written specifically to widows, the truth extends to widowers as well. It is a reminder that God wants to be a spouse to you, to provide you with the comfort you experienced in marriage, as well as help you with the tasks and responsibilities of life.
God’s love for you is woven into the pages of your Bible.
- Nothing in all of creation can separate you from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39)
- God will never forget you, His beloved child (Isaiah 49:15-16)
Encouraged by God’s love for you, consider how to spend your time this Valentine’s Day. It’s okay to celebrate the special love you shared with your spouse as a gift from God.
Consider journaling your feelings of love and gratitude for the shared years and memories. If it is meaningful, buy your spouse’s favorite flowers and display them as a reminder of the love you shared.
If you have children, grandchildren or a special relationship with a family at your church or in your neighborhood, send them gifts of cards or treats as a celebration of the love God gave you in marriage, and continues to display to you through them.
You may be surprised how much they need the encouragement, too.
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4. Reminders for the Lonely in Marriage
If you think the only lonely people on Valentine’s Day are single young adults, it might help you to learn that many married people also feel alone even though they wear a wedding ring.
Research shows 63 percent of people who suffer from chronic loneliness are married and living with their spouse.
This Valentine’s Day, if the hurt of being in a strained relationship or the unmet expectations of marriage makes it difficult to celebrate the idea of love, it’s okay to pour out those feelings to God. Spend some time before Valentine’s Day writing out your thoughts or talking with God about your relationship. Ask Him for grace and forgiveness to show kindness to your spouse.
Instead of waiting for words of affirmation from your spouse, consider reading words of affirmation about God’s love for you expressed in the Bible.
- God rejoices over you because he loves you (Zephaniah 3:17)
- You are infinitely valuable to God (Luke 12:6-7)
- Nothing is impossible for God (Luke 1:37)
- God’s love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8)
Walking through each day secure in God’s love for you can make it possible to reach out even if you aren’t guaranteed that the action will be appreciated or reciprocated. Consider writing a note of gratitude to your spouse, prepare them a special meal or plan an evening together as an act of love with no strings attached.
And, if nothing is offered in return, God’s love can steady you even in your disappointment. If the strain of the relationship will not allow you to spend time together, consider visiting a nursing home or see if the local children’s hospital would allow you to share a Valentine’s treat with residents or patients.
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5. A Valentine’s Day Prayer for All of Us
As Valentine’s Day approaches, I find great comfort in the words of Paul who knew the power of understanding even a small part of God’s love for us. May it encourage all of us.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:17-19
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Lisa M. Samra was born and raised in Texas, graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Texas and earned a Master of Biblical Studies degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. Lisa now lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband, Jim, and their four children. She leads several ministries at Calvary Church, with a focus on encouraging church leaders and training people for ministry. She is a regular contributor to Crosswalk.com, Our Daily Bread, and her work has also appeared in a variety of publications and online sites. Lisa loves to travel and often finds inspiration from experiencing the beauty of diverse cultures, places, and people. Lisa enjoys good coffee, running, and reading, just not all at the same time.